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Which Guidebook?


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Year of past OR future Camino
V Frances; V Podensis; V Francigena; V Portugues; V Francigena del Sud; Jakobsweg. Jaffa - Jerusalem
I took both the UK CSJ guidebook (2006 edition) and John Brierley’s “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago” because I could not decide which one to take before I left home. In the event I used mainly the Brierley guide, but cross-checked the CSJ booklet occasionally for any additional information on routes and history.

Brierley turned out to be more useful for me. I did not want all the latest details of phone numbers and comments on accommodation, costs and eating places that the CSJ guidebook specialises in. My approach was to arrive at my daily stop and pretty much choose the first convenient place to stay after reviewing the options listed in Brierley.

Brierley has a good balance of practical route information, details of accommodation and eating and historical background. The strip maps are generally good, but since they are not to scale and not geographically accurate they can occasionally mislead. Still, for me, having maps was important. Although it is certainly easy enough to navigate using the plentiful waymarks without a map – at least on the standard routes.

Much of my criticism of the CSJ guide arises from its unformatted, type-written presentation. I found this irritating to use on the road. This is purely a style preference – the actual information is the most up to date you can get.

The preparation and planning sections of both guides are similar in usefulness. But all that information and more can be found on the internet (and this excellent website!) before departure and is not required in the field – just unwanted weight.

A guidebook is not really required and some pilgrims don’t take one at all. My advice is to review both on the web and choose the one that best suits how you plan to complete your camino. Of course there are also much more comprehensive (and heavier) guides for those who want more background and history.


Bob M
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